Costanzo, Lucas virtually assured election in Nov.

May 22, 2013
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Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter Washington County Court of Common Pleas judge hopeful Mike Lucas looks over supporters' shoulders at primary results Tuesday night at the Washington Elks lodge.
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Mike Lucas
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Valarie Costanzo

Democratic and Republican voters in Washington County nominated the same top two choices, so barring the entry of an independent candidacy over the summer, Valarie Costanzo can pick out a gavel of her choice and Michael Lucas can be measured for a black robe.

Costanzo, a district judge in Cecil and McDonald, already has the black robe, and Lucas, as first assistant district attorney, knows every nook and cranny of the courthouse.

But neither of them dared to predict that they would sew up both nominations.

Until they saw the results come in Tuesday night.

Costanzo finished, according to unofficial totals, with 3,331 Republican votes to Lucas’ 3,207 with all 184 precincts reporting. On the Democratic ticket, Lucas was on top with 7,839 to Costanzo’s 7,788.

Although they traded leads as the vote totals came in, Costanzo and Lucas led the pack of eight throughout the night.

“I am absolutely thrilled and honored that I received both nominations tonight,” said Costanzo by phone from a private gathering in Meadowbrook. “I want to thank both Democrats and Republicans for believing in my ability to serve on the Court of Common Pleas.

“This is unexpected to have both of us win. I’m overwhelmed right now. It may take a few days for me to digest this. We’ll continue working through November.”

Costanzo, 43, called the double nomination “a bit of a relief” but said she could not have accomplished it without the support of family and friends.

“It was a grassroots effort over the last five months,” Costanzo added. “I think that all paid off tonight. I made it clear from the beginning of this race that I was reaching out to both parties. Judicial races are not about political affiliation at all, and I’m happy that the people of Washington agreed.”

Costanzo, the sole woman in this year’s judicial primary, had 20.9 percent of the Republican vote while Lucas was a close second with 20.2 percent.

On the Democrat ballot, Lucas finished with 25.9 percent while Costanzo had 25.7.

Neither was able to exhale until 182 of 184 precincts reported about 11 p.m.

He, too, used the word “overwhelming” when asked to describe how he felt at that time.

“It’s incredible,” Lucas, 45, continued. In the past couple of weeks, we started to get a buzz that it might happen.”

With a single precinct in Republican-heavy Peters Township still out, the suspense continued for Lucas. “We weren’t sure at that point. I was very relieved when that last group came in,” the Carroll Township resident said Tuesday.

He, too, thanked his supporters, calling them “absolutely tremendous.”

His days in the district attorney’s office may be numbered, but he said, “I’m going to sprint to the finish. There’s still work to do.”

This year alone, Lucas has prosecuted a homicide and a homicide-related case. He noted that in any case he has prosecuted or directly supervised, he would not be permitted to sit in judgment.

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided that. The president judge will make a determination on where everyone will best serve the county. Hopefully, I’ll be able to serve in core areas where I have competency.”

Here are the totals for the remaining six candidates on the Republican ballot:

Lane Turturice, 2,623; Alan Benyak, 2,054; Blane Black 1,650; Thomas Fallert, 1,069; Charles Kurowski, 1,003; Peter V. Marcoline III, 938.

On the Democratic ticket, the totals were: Benyak, 3,953; Black, 3,408; Kurowski, 2,777; Turturice, 2,056; Marcoline, 1,570; and Fallert, 895.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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